I’ve just posted the third of 12 additional online chapters supplementing my book The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison. This chapter features stories that I could not include in the book, either for reasons of space (to keep the book at a manageable length) or, in some cases, because the information was not available at the time of writing.
This additional chapter complements Chapter 5 of The Guantánamo Files, looking at the stories of 16 prisoners not mentioned in the book, who were the first to be captured crossing from Afghanistan to Pakistan in December 2001. They are referred to as “Osama’s bodyguards,” because of dubious allegations made by Mohammed al-Qahtani, an alleged “20th hijacker” for the 9/11 attacks, during the months that he was tortured at Guantánamo in late 2002 and early 2003, but their stories also contain many other unattributed allegations made by unidentified sources and “al-Qaeda operatives” that are equally suspicious.
Nearly six and a half years since Guantánamo opened, it is to America’s shame that this is the first time that many of these men’s stories have been revealed, especially as none of them appear to have had anything whatsoever to do with the inner workings of al-Qaeda or the 9/11 attacks, which is the purported reason for their long incarceration without charge or trial.
It is, I believe, equally shameful that the majority of them –- who are from the Yemen –- remain in Guantánamo, with no sign of when, if ever, they will be released, because of the inability of the US and Yemeni governments to come to some sort of agreement about the conditions of their repatriation. The fact that the majority of the Saudis –- whose stories are remarkably similar –- were repatriated in 2006 and 2007 only adds to the realization that Guantánamo –- touted as a prison holding “the worst of the worst” –- is actually a failed experiment in torture and interrogation, and that politics, rather then justice, determines who gets to leave, and when.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.
Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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